[amsat-bb] US barriers to orbit (Re: Amateur communication satellites)

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Wed Jun 29 19:28:02 UTC 2016

>> Within the US, when someone like Bob, WB4APR, tries to build amateur
>> communication sats, he runs into needless obstacles from FCC and NTIA.

> Expand, please.

The FCC had held up our Advance Notice (API) filing on the Naval Academy's
last 5 Amateur Satellites (2 in orbit!) in a disagreement over whether
Amateur Satellites built by students at the Service Academies can be
amateur or must operate under NTIA rules in Federal Bands.

Since the 5 satellites all had 2-way ham-user transponders on them on 2m
and 70cm, the NTIA disagreed and said it was an FCC part 97 operation.
FCC said it had to be Federal (and back and forth).  Note, we CANNOT get
an "Experimental license" from the FCC, because it is true, that our
institution is Federal.  But when  our students build an Amateur
Satellite, it does not matter who built it, what matters is how it is

Finally, I think the paperwork was accepted by the FCC for OPERATION in
support of users in the Amateur Satellite Service and we have our fingers
crossed that they will forward the API Notices to the ITU.

To avoid any recurrence of this debate, our next student experimental
satellite will be a bent-pipe HF linear transponder like the early AMSATS
with uplink on 15m and downlink on 10m.

We walk a fine line...  In order for DOD to launch it, the experiment has
to have some educational value to DOD.  In order for us to be able to
build something useful and economical at the undergraduate level, it needs
to be amateur.   So by proposing an HF transponder for our next project,

The Feds have NO SATELLITE allocations in HF, but the Amateur Satellite
Service does. Therefore if they want to let us learn anything about HF
satellites, then they have to let us operate it in the Amateur Satellite
Service where there will be plenty of "users" to exercise it.

So it will be a 100% amateur radio satellite for all hams worldwide and
what we learn from it will have value to understaning HF satellites.

Again, fingers crossed.  This would be a 2018 satellite at the earliest.

LESSON LEARNED:  Don't let anyone but the Amateur Satellite Control
operator get involved in the paper work.  He files the paperwork and he
takes the responsibility for ON/OFF command as required by the FCC.


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